Thread Rating:
  • 2 Vote(s) - 3 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
What Are You Readin? Last Book / Novel You've Read
#81
[Image: 3668808.jpg]

A collection I found entertaining is 3000 Years of Fantasy and Science Fiction edited by L. Sprague de Camp and his wife Catherine Crook de Camp. It has a foreword by Isaac Asimov and is composed of stories that show the progress that the science fiction and fantasy genres have made through out the millennia. It contains excerpts from Plato's "Timaios" and Homer's "The Odyssey" which are absolute classics I recommend everyone read them in full. I also enjoyed the stories "A Journey To The Moon" by Cyrano de Bergerac and "The Cats of Ulthar" by H.P. Lovecraft. My favorites from this anthology are as follows:

H.G. Wells' "The New Accelerator" is about a scientist who invents a drug that basically gives the user super speed. What I like about this story is it seems like a fairly realistic depiction of what would happen to someone had they gained this power. Long before any Flash comics had brought up the idea.

"Before Eden" by Arthur C. Clarke is about astronauts on Venus who discover a form of alien intelligence that they are unable to communicate with. It also has a message about the effects that pollution and human carelessness pose on life.

Asimov's "The Last Question" is about two scientists who on a drunk bet basically ask a super intelligent computer how to prevent entropy. Of course the AI answers them "Insufficient Data For Meaningful Answer". Over millennia human beings evolve as does the AI and again and again the AI is asked the same question with the same results. I can't really answer the question without spoilers but it's a very satisfying ending.
"It is wrong to assume that art needs the spectator in order to be. The film runs on without any eyes. The spectator cannot exist without it. It ensures his existence." -- James Douglas Morrison
Quote
#82
I read the Vince Flynn / Kyle Mills thriller The Survivor. You can read what I thought about via this Pop-topia.com link.
Quote
#83
Today I finished An Astronauts Guide to Life on Earth, by Colonel Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut and commander of the International Space Station.

Factually the book did not contain much new information for me regarding space travel, but its presentation and impression were amazing. He really sells the majesty and wonder of being in space, along with the practical, extremely grounded work required to support a space program and the requirements placed upon the astronauts. He doesn't point at movies and TV shows and say "YOU'RE IDIOTS AND GETTING IT WRONG!", but he does dispel all the myths he can about what the training and life is like. He's also one of the few people who can give the "it's more important to be normal than try to be extraordinary" message and not sound condescending and pandering, but instead like a person just trying to explain that we've all got a place.

Plus, the due made a music video in space. IN SPACE. That's just....I get that he's actually a little unhappy with how that one event overshadowed so much else of the work he did, including an unplanned emergency spacewalk literally the day after they made the video, but still...."Space Oddity" IN SPACE.

Win.



Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#84
I just read Lies We Tell Ourselves, after having seen the author on a panel at NYCC.  It's a pretty painful book to read (In a powerful way) as it deals with a black girl integrating into an all-white school in 1959 Virginia who realizes that she's also starting to having "unnatural" feelings for a white girl at the school.  A white girl who happens to be the daughter of a prominent segregationist as well.

The story itself is fiction (Fictional characters in a fictional city) but it nails very well the truly disturbing events during desegregation, the harassment and downright torture the black students were forced to endure from the other students, often ignored or directly condoned by the teachers and administration.  Added on to that is a huge helping of self-loathing coming from the confusion over these new, unwanted desires as they struggle to deal with everything together.  The story also doesn't glorify or idolize the integration struggle; some of the kids are bitter over being forced into the situation, prodded by their parents and fighting for "the cause" instead of wanting to move to this new school where they're going to be hated.  They need to balance the civil rights struggle with their own hellish existence, and for some the emotional and physical abuse is too much, while others excel and exceed expectations.

I've really only got two complaints about the whole book, and they're pretty minor.  The first is about Judy and the development of her relationship with Sarah (The integrating black student) and Linda (The white student).  Judy is herself a white student at the school and she's...a little bit slow.  She's innocently non-racist not because she has weighed the factors and realized racism doesn't hold up, but only because she doesn't get why she should be mean to this person she doesn't know.  She makes some bigoted remarks when prodded into it, but even then she's confused, and she and Sarah become (Private, where nobody else can see) friends.  However, she does have a problem with being gay, and it's not explained why that bigotry stuck with her and racism didn't.  It's not that it's impossible to hold those two different viewpoints (There's plenty of people in real life who aren't racist who are homophobic, and vice-versa), but if she's so innocent and ignorant of why "they" are bad in one instance, why not others?

The other problem was Jack, Linda's boyfriend, who's one of the most perfect examples of the Disposable Fiance I've ever seen.  It's an overused problem in stories where one character is introduced already in a relationship other than the main story: He's good-looking, charming, respectful, doesn't pressure her for sex, and yet steps aside with no problems or bitterness at all after a single conversation with "Oh, good, I didn't want to be together anyway.  This worked out perfectly for everybody!".  With how harshly the book examined everything else, this part seemed to go a bit too easily.

Like I said those are minor problems, and everything else more than compensates.  I also go a lot of the pop culture references that were inserted as being topical for the time; they saw Some Like it Hot at the movies and listened to an old Edith Piaf record (Isn't her voice amazing?).

A very good work.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#85
My Halloween season reading this year is "The Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith, Vol. 1."

[Image: cas.jpg]

Smith was a member of the "Lovecraft Circle" but his stories, while often interesting, don't have the same facility for psychological horror that Lovecraft's do. They're more similar to Lovecraft's "Dreamland" stories than his Cthulhu mythos ones.

Smith's prose seems almost comically purple at times to the modern reader. It makes more sense if you realize that he was a poet first and foremost and only wrote stories to pay the bills. His stories are like what you would get if John Keats or Percy Bysshe Shelley wrote prose.

I'm also reading "The Stainless Steel Rat" by Harry Harrison, a 1961 sci-fi work about an interplanetary grifter and thief who is recruited by the authorities to hunt down other crooks like himself. The story has a lot of interesting features: it's one if the few old-school sci-fi stories to include something resembling the Internet; it uses faster-than-light travel called "warp drive" several years before Star Trek; interstellar communication is accomplished by psychics called "psimen," because the speed of thought is apparently not subject to the laws of physics.

[Image: ssr.jpg]
"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations, which dare already to challenge our government to a trial of strength and bid defiance to the laws of our country." --Thomas Jefferson

“Fascism should rightly be called corporatism, as it is the merger of corporate and government power.” --Benito Mussolini
Quote
#86
You have no idea how much you just blew my mind with the revelation that Rattrap's reference to himself as "the stainless steel rat" is a classic sci-fi reference.

Beast Wars: Twenty years later and we're still learning new revelations.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#87
Today I read "Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel", also by an author that I saw at a panel at NYCC, and it was actually not (Quite) what I expected.  It was a more conventional coming-out/coming-of-age story as a girl in high school has to deal with accepting her sexuality while confronting all the rest of teenage and school drama as the sexy, fun new girl transfers into the school and upsets her plan to not have any crushes.

The story served as a pretty good deconstruction of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl; the (As aforementioned) sexy, fun, and inevitably "quirky" girl who bursts into somebody's life and 'shakes things up' by getting the staid and stodgy main character to relax.  Saskia might be sexy and quirky, and she gets Leila to cut class and go to the mall for fun....except when you disappear suddenly from school the administration calls your parents, who panic when they can't reach you on your cell phone, and they start calling the police and wondering if you're dead somewhere, and then they're furious and disappointed when they learn you were just playing hooky, and you start to fail your class because the teacher won't give you a makeup test because you knew there was a test and "I wanted to go shopping" isn't a justifiable excuse.  And sure, her affection and sensuality can help you acknowledge your own feelings and accept your desires, but she can also be batshit crazy because she's @#$%ing nuts.  The recognition that Saskia wasn't a healthy (Or remotely stable) influence on her life helped Leila more than her 'help' ever did.

The eventual development of the actual romance was very well set-up; predictable early on, but still sweet and rewarding and not some ridiculous idealized fantasy.

What made the book not quite what I expected was that the panel discussion seemed to imply that Leila's Iranian background played a much larger role than it did.  Not that her Iranian background wasn't a big role in the book, I just expected it to be a driving force of the story, her dealing with her cultural identity and religion along with grappling with her sexuality.  Much like the way Kamala Khan's heritage is such a huge part of Ms Marvel; you couldn't write that same story from a different background.  Here, however, I feel like Leila's background could have been switched with a dozen other immigration backgrounds and had the same story with only minor re-writes.  Her father listens to news regarding US-Iran relations, but there's no bullying or harassment that comes from being Muslim in Post-9/11 America.  There's no awkwardness as she tries to fit her traditions with the traditions of the predominantly-WASP students at her school.  She (spoiler alert) winds up dating a Jewish girl, and apart from a single horrible remark by Saskia there's no mention at all of Israeli/Iranian or Jewish/Muslim conflicts.  Not that I'm saying the story needed to dwell on these things, I just expected them to.  I suppose that speaks more to my preconceptions than anything else.

I also totally want to see that Cinderella/Goodfellas/The Godfather mashup play they put on.  I don't care if it's middle school theatre, that show was gold.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#88
I just finished No One Needs To Know, which is one of the worstly-advertised books I've read in a while.  I wasn't even going to read it until I saw how almost every single review said something along the lines of "Ignore the synopsis, it's not like that".

The synopsis makes it sound like an unpleasant book, as it described how Olivia is constantly sabotaging her twin brother's relationships by talking about his girlfriends behind their backs because she doesn't want to share him.  It makes her sound really petty and vindictive, perhaps even sociopathic with the way she's trying to control his life like that.  Except that's not what the book is about.  And I don't mean that the book portrays it in a different light, or gives some kind of background, I mean that just plain isn't what the plot of the story is.  Olivia never does any kind of relationship sabotaging at all, and there's no indication that she has done such in the past.  I don't quite get why the wanted to make her seem like such a bitch in the synopsis.

The book itself was pretty good. Nothing groundbreaking or revolutionary, but it was a competent and steady blossoming story.  Liam was another example of the Disposable Fiancé (Be honest, if you learned you were being dumped for your sister by somebody you really like would you just shrug your shoulders and then give them relationship advice?), but with everything else done with his character he wasn't as one-note as the type usually is.  I also love how they completely avoided the Misunderstood Overhearing tropes; most things aren't overheard at all, and when something is overheard they hear enough to get the whole thing and realize what's going on.  Avoiding that ridiculous bit of stupidity was nice.

The Xanax subplot was poorly handled, only mentioned four times total and never really explored, but I did like the last reference, where Olivia actually says that you legitimately can't just stop taking medication, you'll go into physical withdrawal.  Most books wouldn't even give the science that much lip service.

So, in general, it's a nice, fun book which avoids some dreaded pitfalls, even if it never quite becomes stellar.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#89
[Image: 26018811._UY200_.jpg]
Quote
#90
I read Honey Girl today, and I'm going to be honest and say that it really coalesced the perceived different ways of thinking between men and women because...I don't get it.

Reviews described it as being very Mean Girls-esque, and I get that comparison with the story of Nani, the new girl in town trying to figure out her way to popularity by following social rules, but I can't connect to this story on an emotional level.  Not at all.  I can recognize intellectually why people are feeling certain ways, but it doesn't make sense to me.  Things seem stupid or obvious or pointless to me and I need to fight very hard against dismissing everything for being childish.  When reading Lies We Tell Ourselves (See above) I was able to empathize with Sarah even though her life is so drastically different from mine (Much more different from my life than Nani's), because I can still appreciate and understand what she's going through and recognize its import. Nani, though, is almost alien to me; if this was a picture I'd have tilted it sideways and cocked my head as I squint at it.  Plus, I don't get why it needed to be a period piece, either.  While I certainly enjoyed the '70's pop culture and political references (Historian, remember?) I don't see what part of the story needed to be set in the '70's.

I'd rather have read a story about KC, the barely-there character who seems to have dealt with this stuff in the recent past and is now a more developed person (Who also seems cool), or get this story from Mary Jo's perspective as she sees this new kid come into the social circle she's barely hanging on to and forces her out.  Those seem like they could have had some meat to them.  As it is, it's just a lot of pettiness, obsession over tiny things that are ephemeral even by the standards of kids in high school, and a story where the end goal is popularity with nothing else gained along the way.

Also, I'm gonna point out that the CPR scene was all sorts of messed up.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#91
Having just finished Taking Flight, I'm struck with a realization: I am blowing through these YA books like a beast.  I'm averaging, what, two a day?  The simple writing style intended for people literally half my age combined with their (Relatively) short lengths means I'm just zipping right through them.  That's good for enjoyment, but not so much for buying so many new books (Thankfully Kindle versions are cheap).

This one had a weak start and a very abrupt end, but other than that it was very good. It didn't quite play out as the perfect Fish Out of Water story I was expecting, it pretty thoroughly demonized both her city point of origin and her new rural locale.  I like how it did more than just say "Look at the city person on the farm!  Isn't it whacky how out of place she is?" and addressed other issues that most books wouldn't even think about, including (For example) racial issues in a book that isn't about race.  Lies We tell Ourselves was a book about integration, so of course they're going to deal with race relations, but most books that don't have it is a primary (Or secondary) point leave it out.  Here, however, when Lauren is looking for people to eat lunch with she approaches Fiona and Nate because introducing yourself to two people is easier than trying to join an entire social clique, and their initial dismissal makes her realize that they're sitting alone because they're the only two black kids in this high school in rural Georgia and they think the pretty popular-looking white girl asking to sit with them is somehow making this a joke.  Dealing with racism isn't the point of the book, but it's something you would definitely encounter when you move from a city like Los Angeles to the sticks, where de facto segregation still exists even though everybody will tell you how they totally aren't racist.

Lauren's relationship with Maddie was also nice, I love the fact that they never became friends or really made up.  Lauren messed up badly, Maddie accepted her apology and recognized that they didn't need to be active enemies, but a friendship so thoroughly sundered can't be easily patched up and they go their separate ways.  And that's it.  Sometimes, there really is no way to fix things and you need to accept that and move on.

The biggest problem was the opening and setup, which really didn't work well.  First off, I'm 99% sure the entire premise of the story doesn't work, because the court can't just give you to a new family to raise.  They can take you away from your guardian if they deem it necessary, putting you into the foster system or group home or such, including sending you to counseling, but they can't literally send you to a private residence to live with a family and learn their values, even if the father is a psychiatrist.  They also dropped the ball when it came to depicting Lauren's sudden break from her old life; given just how much the implication is that she had been "partying" (Drinking) before being sent to Georgia, she should have gone through chemical withdrawal after quitting cold turkey like that.  There's also no emotional addiction; she gets drunk once at a party, but didn't even seem to want to get drunk or care about it.  That 'cure' came a bit too easily.  I also didn't buy the establishment of her friendship with Caitlyn, the entire chapter felt so awkward and fake.  Their relationship made a lot more sense throughout the rest of the book where they're struggling to keep in touch over snatches of phone calls.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#92
Earlier this week I read Ash and its prequel, The Huntress.

Ash was interesting; it's a reinterpretation of the Cinderella-mythos (Which I realize has actually been done a lot over the past decade or so) but with some very unique flairs.  For one, there's a lot of drawing from actual European folklore, where fairies and such are borderline evil (If not over the border) and they exist as horror stories and cautionary tales, not childhood fantasies.  For another, the romance is surprisingly un-fairy-tale-ish; even apart from the fact that Ash was never interested in the Prince at all, the romance which did happen wasn't Love at First Sight or True Bonding or anything.  Ash and the Huntress bumped into each other a few times at random encounters, then started spending time together, and then realized they were in love.  The switch still wasn't handled perfectly for my taste, but it was much better than I've come to expect, where it's all about the heart flutter at first glance and nothing more.  I also liked all the references to authentic folklore and real-life myths and practices, including the clash between tradition and modernity as people start to dismiss the folktales of their ancestors.

I enjoyed the examination of what Ash (The Cinderella-analogue) actually did during all her years of toiling away as her step-mother's slave, since that's often a glossed-over part of the story, although I'll be honest and say that I expected some sort of turnaround at the end with regards to the stepmother's accusation that Ash's father had left her in debt.  Considering that she does splurge on luxuries for her own daughters, even while scrimping on necessities, I was waiting for a reveal that they had much money after all, and I felt it a little lacking that Ash just walked out without ever confronting or addressing that.  I did like what was done with the second step-sister and her own romantic aspirations; it's become common for most modern Cinderella adaptations to have the second step-sister be not as vicious as the first, and maybe even overall sympathetic, and I liked the scene here where she actually snapped back at Ash for deriding her hopes of marrying the Prince.  She points out that just because Ash doesn't want to marry him doesn't mean there's something wrong with that dream, it doesn't make a woman shallow or worthless to dream of a happy wedding, and I liked that the story admitted that.  Most stories don't want to accept anything that the main character doesn't personally desire.

The Huntress is labelled as a prequel to Ash, and I suppose technically that's correct, but only in the sense that the Fall of Rome is a prequel to the Gulf War.  Its setting is several hundred years before the other book, so far in advance that even the names of the fairy races are different, and there's no story or character commonality apart from just being in the same setting.  Unlike Ash, which was heavily into European folklore, The Huntress draws much of its inspiration from Chinese (And Japanese) tradition, including specific I, Ching references.  It was very interesting how they managed to combine the different flavors into a mythology that could still work across both books; in Ash the fairy folk were referred to as the Sidhe, pronounced "She" and originating as a term from Irish folklore that referred to a fairy race, whereas in The Huntress they're the Xi, which is also pronounced "She", but which reflects the Chinese influences.

The version of The Huntress that I got also came with the short story The Fox, which was published separately and is a short sequel to The Huntress based on a chapter that the author had to cut out of the original text.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#93
I finished The Dark Wife last night on the train into New York City, it's a reinterpretation of the Kidnap of Persephone from Greek mythology, positing that it was actually a voluntary flight by Persephone because going to the Underworld was the only place she could be assured of protection from Zeus's rapaciousness. The other big change was portraying Hades as a woman, with the titles 'lord' and 'god' (Instead of gender-reflecting 'lady' and 'goddess') being Zeus's way of being a dick and mocking her.

It was a good book, but I will say that the start of the relationship between Hades and Persephone was too much Love at First Sight. I get that the fact that they're gods means that they are inhumanly beautiful and awe-inspiring, but it still tried to put too much depth of feeling into a first glimpse. I also have to question the way it seems like all of Greek mythology as it's come down to us is Zeus's spin on events, since if that were the case he would have tried to make himself look better; I'm not even talking all of the values dissonance between then and now (Where stuff which is viewed as horrible in the modern world was approved of back then) but stuff like his capriciousness, unreliability and betrayal which was frowned upon even back then.

I did like the positive portrayal of Hades, who was one of the fairest and beneficent of all the Greek gods. Despite the fact that modern pop culture has conflated him with the devil, the mythological Hades was never petty or harsh in his dealings with humanity, never betraying his people, and never neglecting his duties. I'd actually call him "good" if it wasn't for the whole kidnap and rape of of Persephone (Yeah, that one thing wipes out a whooole lot of positive in my book), and even then he's a lot better than the rest of the gods, because he only raped one person (Okay, seriously, I really hate how Greek mythology forces me to classify somebody as "not so bad" because he only committed a single act of gross violation).
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#94
I just read a perspective of Twilight that really highlights just what it got wrong with its main story, and how its moral/point is actually the exact opposite of what it tries to be (I'm copy/pasting here in its entirety):

-----------

Let’s put problems with spelling, grammar, narrative flow, plot structure, etc. aside and just look at the story and, in particular, the character arc of Bella Swan.

At the beginning of the story, she is moving from Arizona to Washington on her own volition - she has decided to give her mother and her step-father some time and space and to spend some time with her father. At this point in the story, she is, admittedly, a bit of a Mary Sue, but an endearing one. She is sensitive to the needs of others (moves to Alaska for her Mom’s sake, helps her Dad around the house, is understanding and tries to give the benefit of the doubt even when the other students are somewhat cruel to her when she first arrives), clumsy, out-of-sorts, and a little insecure. She’s not a girly-girl or a cheerleader type, doesn’t get caught up in the typical sorts of high school behavior, and in general functions as an independent person.

It’s worth noting that if Tyler’s van had smashed her, she would have (at that point) died as a fairly well-rounded, empathetic individual. We certainly wouldn’t say she died in need of redemption, at any rate. Instead, Edward ‘saves’ her - and this supernatural ‘salvation’ marks the beginning of a journey that ultimately destroys her.

As she gets more entangled with Edward, she becomes less and less independent, more and more selfish. She is accepting of his abusive behavior (stalking her on trips with her friends, removing parts from her car so that she can’t go see Jacob, creeping into her window at night, emotional manipulation) to the point that when he completely abandons her (walking out on the trust and commitment they’ve built together, in spite of having vowed to remain with her no matter what), she is willing to take him back. Edward is clearly entirely morally bankrupt.

Her father, Charlie Swan, is sort of the Jimminy Cricket of the story. His intuition is a proxy for the reader’s intuition, and he’s generally right. He doesn’t like Edward, because he can sense the truth - not that Edward is a vampire, that doesn’t matter in particular - but that Edward is devoid of anything approximating a ‘soul’ (for those strict secularists, you could just say Charlie can see that Edward is a terrible person). Bella is warned by numerous people and events throughout the course of the story that she is actively pursuing her own destruction - but she’s so dependent on Edward and caught up in the idea of the romance that she refuses to see the situation for what it is. Charlie tells her Edward is bad news. Edward tells her that he believes he is damned, and devoid of a soul. He further tells her that making her like him is the most selfish thing he will ever do. Jacob warns her numerous times that Edward is a threat to her life and well-being. She even has examples of other women who have become involved with monsters - Emily Young bears severe and permanent facial disfigurement due to her entanglement with Sam Uley.

Her downward spiral continues when, in New Moon, she turns around and treats her father precisely as Edward has treated her - abandoning him after suffering an obvious and extended severe bout of depression, leaving him to worry that she is dead for several days. She had been emotionally absent for a period of months before that anyhow. Charlie Swan is traumatized by this event, and never quite recovers thereafter. (He is continuously suspicous of nearly everyone Bella interacts with from that point on, worries about her frequently, and seems generally less happy.)

Her refusal to break her codependence with Edward eventually leads them to selfishly endanger Carlisle’s entire clan when the Volturi threaten (and then attempt) to wipe them out for their interaction with her - so she is at this point in the story willing to put lives on both sides of the line (her family and the Cullens) at risk in favor of this abusive relationship. Just like in a real abusive relationship, she is isolated or isolates herself from nearly everyone in her life - for their safety, she believes.

Ultimately, she marries Edward, submitting to mundane domesticity and an abusive relationship - voluntarily giving up her independence in favor of fulfilling Edward’s idea of her appropriate role. Her pregnancy - which in the real world would bind her to the father of her children irrevocably (if only through the legal system or through having to answer the kid’s questions about their paternity) - completely destroys her body. The baby drains her of every resource in her body (she becomes sickly, skeletal, and unhealthy) and ultimately snaps her spine during labor. Her physical destruction tracks with and mirrors her moral and psychological destruction - both are the product of seeds that she allowed Edward to plant inside her through her failure to be independent.

Ultimately, to ‘save’ her (there’s that salvation again), Edward shoots venom directly into her heart. Let me repeat that for emphasis: The climax of the entire series is when Edward injects venom directly into Bella Swan’s heart.

Whatever wakes up in that room, it ain’t Bella.

I’ll refer to the vampire as Bella Cullen, the human as Bella Swan.

Bella Swan was clumsy.

Bella Cullen is the most graceful of all the vampires.

Bella Swan was physically weak and frequently needed protection.

Bella Cullen is among the strongest and most warlike of the vampires, standing essentially on her own against a clan that has ruled the world for centuries.

Bella Swan was empathetic to the needs of others before she met Edward.

Bella Cullen pursues two innocent human hikers through a forest, intent on ripping them to pieces to satisfy her bloodlust - and stops only because Edward calls out to her. Not because she perceives murder as wrong. (Breaking Dawn, p.417). She also attempts to kill Jacob and breaks Seth’s shoulder because she didn’t approve of what Jacob nicknamed her daughter (Breaking dawn, p.452). She no longer has morals .

Bella Swan was fairly modest and earnest.

Bella Cullen uses her sex appeal to manipulate innocent people and extract information from them (pp.638 - 461) - she does so in order to get in touch with J. Jenks.

In short, her entire identity - everything that made her who she was - has been erased.

This is powerfully underscored on p. 506, when Charlie Swan (remember, the conscience of the story) sees his own daughter for the first time after her transformation:

Charlie’s blank expression told me how off my voice was. His eyes zeroed in on me and widened.

Shock. Disbelief. Pain. Loss. Fear. Anger. Suspicion. More pain.


He goes through the entire grieving process right there - because at that moment, he recognizes what so many readers don’t - Bella Swan is dead.

The most tragic part of the whole story is that this empty shell of a person - which at this point is nothing more than a frozen echo of Bella, twisted and destroyed as she is by her codependence with Edward, fails to see what has happened to her. She ends the story in denial - empty, annihilated, and having learned nothing.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#95
I finished A Call to Arms today, the second book of the Manticore Ascendant series.  This was an oddly disjointed book, with some parts working really well and other parts just falling apart.  I think they wanted to write a different book covering some of the characters and part of the story, but had to smoosh it into the framework of this larger series they're working on spinning off from the mainline Honorverse series.

The parts with characters except for theoretical main character Travis Long worked very well, it was the parts that focused on him which felt so slipshod.  He's absent almost completely for the first 1/3 of the book, and this wasn't world-building or set-up for the later story (Many other Honorverse novels, particularly the more recent ones, have had huge swathes of of text before the main characters arrived as they lay out the setting), this was a full separate small-scale action/adventure story.  Chomps' stumbling onto the murders and Lisa's involvement was an entertaining and engrossing little escapade, and made me more interested in sticking with them than switching over to Travis.  Their continued presence in the back half of the book also worked well, and helped buoy that section.

The fleet combat was actually much more engrossing than usual in the mainline Honorverse series, and considering it's a military science-fiction series with an emphasis on fleet combat that's saying something.  The problem with the mainline combat is that it's very...formulaic, and this isn't a criticism of the writing, but rather an acknowledgement that combat is formulaic within the fictional universe.  One of the very first things said about combat in the first Honorverse novel was that tactics and strategy had stagnated over the centuries due to the refinement of military technology, so the outcome of maneuvers and engagements are apparent to all parties early into the event.  Again, not a criticism of the writing since this is how it works in the universe, but this means that quite often we (The reader) knows how something is going to turn out based on the circumstances because of the way everything stacks up.  I can't think of another engagement elsewhere in the series quite like the Battle of Manticore here, where everything is happening by the seat of everybody's pants; rushed maneuvers in half a dozen different directions, throwing out brilliant (And stupid) ideas to see what works, with bald-faced luck deciding this-and-that.  Yes, I knew how it was going to turn out in the end (I have literally seen the future of this series), but I had no idea how it was going to turn out that way.

The problems, like I said, mainly come from the main character and his related plots.  Travis is written quite oddly, and like I said in my review of the first book in the preceding page of this thread, in my status as an armchair psychiatrist I'd actually diagnose him as somewhere along the Autism spectrum.  He clearly has some sort of social interaction disorder, and I mean that literally, not in the sense of "This guy's weird, he must have XXXX".  He doesn't understand nonverbal social cues, is extremely focused on (Borderline obsessed) with rules and procedure, and becomes fixated on the few emotional attachments and connections he manages to make.  Except despite being written as being autistic, which could be absolutely fantastic since when's the last time we had an autistic main character in a sci-fi action/adventure series, there's nothing done with that or acknowledged about it; other characters remark on how he isn't a "people person" and that he needs to "loosen up", but nobody seems to even recognize the existence of autism,  not even when he's being screened for admission into the navy.  There's no treatment or management, no other character recognizes that he processes information differently instead of just being uptight, and there's several attempts by people to to get him to change (From "Hey, relax and have fun with us" to abject lessons from superior officers).  His symptoms are so ingrained into the character that it seems to me like the authors have to realize they're writing an autistic character, it's even more apparent than in the first book, except nothing that they do with him or other characters fits.

The other big problem is his...'romance' with Lisa Donnely, which is probably my largest gripe with the book.  Lisa was a great character in the preceding book, but there was nothing there to lay the foundation for any sort of romantic relationship, she was an effective and competent superior officer who worked well with Travis, and that was it.  There was nothing to even indicate that Travis had a serious crush on her, or that she even considered liking him back.  Then, when she shows up after literally not having seen him for five years, Travis is ecstatic that he has a chance to possibly rekindle this romance that had slipped through his fingers back then.  What the heck?  Then, to compound it, it's then almost completely absent from this book while apparently still happening; there is literally only three scenes of them together throughout the entire book, with references to two other meetings, and this book takes place over four years.  That's barely even enough time together to count as distant friends, let alone potential love interests.  The whole relationship was just weird, and I much more enjoyed Lisa's separate adventures (Although I will say this: Travis is absolutely correct that Lisa would be "awesome" as captain of a Battlecruiser).

So, all told it averages out to being an okay book, but I hope the rest of the series (If they continue it) manages to get a solid grip on who they want to be the main character, and him that character be properly enmeshed in the plot as a whole.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#96
I finished Daniel Silva's The English Spy.
Quote
#97
I read O. Henry's short-story After Twenty Years today. It's a very brief, very simple story that (Like much of O. Henry's work) puts a lot into the little space. It shows a policeman on patrol one night coming across a man who says he is waiting for a friend whom he hasn't seen in twenty years, having arranged to meet that night when they separated so long ago. The policeman goes on his way, and a few minutes later another man shows up claiming to be the friend, leading the first waiting man away for a few minutes before it is revealed that he is a cop arresting the waiting man. As the story ends, the cop passes a note to the waiting man from the no-show friend, revealing that he was the cop who had first come across him, recognized him as a wanted criminal, and couldn't bring himself to personally arrest his old friend, so he walked on and sent in another cop to do his duty.

Should he have done the deed himself? Just walked on and not mentioned the encounter to anybody? Had the evening reunion?

Hell, I don't know what I would have done in that situation.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#98
I read Six-Gun Snow White today, a Western adaptation of Snow White, which I never expected to see until I literally stumbled across it while browsing the shelves at Barnes & Noble earlier today.  It's a surprisingly compelling read, but it took me a really long time to even find the Snow White part of the story; it's not until the last 1/5 of the book that we get trappings of the fairy-tale that can be readily recognized as reinterpretations of the story, before that everything was so original to this story that even parts which are from the original are hard to recognize (It took until his second appearance that I realized that 'the dude', a Pinkerton detective, was this story's version of the Huntsman).

Still, even though it's not very Snow White-ish until the end, it's a good story.  In this version, Snow White is the bi-racial daughter of a wealthy white man and a Crow Native American woman that he forcibly courted and married (i.e. threatened her tribe with government forces if they didn't hand her over).  Her mother dies soon after childbirth, after at least one suicide attempt beforehand, and she gets the standard isolated-rich-girl-who-is-trapped-in-her-mansion-and-only-sees-her-servants story that you've seen a thousand times (In a nice touch, the story, which is told by Snow White herself, comments how that's a boring story).  Then her father remarries, to a white woman of 'respectable' family, who gives us the usual Evil Stepmother developments, with the horrifying touch of a lot of real-life abuse that bi-racial children received (It's her step-mother who names her 'Snow White', intended as a mockery to constantly remind her that her skin will never be white).

Where it really dives off the rail from the normal Snow White story is that Snow White runs away in her late-teens/early-twenties.  Takes her gun, some clothes, and her horse, and charges blindly into the Old West in order to escape the horrible household.  What follows is a cruel Western tale; her fighting off men that try to take advantage of her (Forced to kill one in a duel), spending a few weeks performing back-breaking labor in a mine, and searching aimlessly for the Crow Nation that she hopes will take her in and give her a home.  She finally stumbles into an outlaw town made up of women likewise outsiders, and this was where it got back on to the Snow White story, as this stands in for the Seven Dwarves (There are seven women who run the town) and this is where the stepmother tries her three killings.

The biggest problem with the book is the ending, mainly because there is no ending.  It just....it just stops.  I'm actually a little bit angry, I feel like I've been cheated out of my money, because it's not that the ending wasn't good enough for me, it's just not there.  So much is left unresolved, or concluded in barely-mentioned narration.  I'd almost have preferred the cliché of a Handsome Prince riding in to save the day to what we got, even though that would have ridden squarely against the story, since at least that would have been something.  This just....isn't.

I very much did enjoy the touches here-and-there of the book looking us (The reader) square in the eye and saying "Grow up, this shit isn't fun or fair" in certain areas.  When one man attacks her in her sleep one night at a mining camp, planning to rape her, it mentions how "The whiskey in his blood had been surging for a fight with a woman, and a fight with a woman ends in her crying and shaking and a fella hushing her all over.  Her dress torn and a bit of tit peeking out and quivering."  That's pure power fantasy right there, the thought that a woman 'wants it' and that she'll enjoy it if you force her and 'show her who's boss', but what the book gives us instead is "Snow White just bit him and pounded him and it was no better than fighting a dude in a barrelhouse.  Just ugly and bruising..."  Later, when 'the dude' catches up to her and explains that he's been hired to kill her and bring her heart back, he offers her a deal: He's not offering to let her go, but if she beats him in a draw of High Card he'll let it be done gentlemanly, facing each other at paces, instead of just shooting her down right then.  She asks how she can be sure that he's using a fair deck and he offers to let her look it over, which she does, and when they eventually draw she wins with the Ace of Hearts.  Afterwards, the book says "Of course she cheated.  Don't be silly."  This is her life, playing against a hired killer, she's going to play to win.  Touches like that worked very well throughout the book.

It also addressed one of the biggest problems of the original fairy tale that I'm sure most people have thought at least once in their lives: Why is Snow White so stupid when facing the Queen with the poisons?  If she's stupid enough to fall for an obvious poison three times then she deserves to die, right?  And maybe she's doing it on purpose, too.  Here that's exactly what it is: After the first two times the women that she's living with don't life a finger to stop the stepmother on her third visit, even though they see her coming this time, because when somebody's committed to dying there's nothing you can do to stop it.  On the third time, Snow White looks her stepmother square in the eye and doesn't even pretend to take any of the escapes or ways out, with the book noting "This is a suicide we're watching, full faith and knowledge".

All told it's a good book that's really dragged by the lack-of-ending, but still worth a look if you want something a little bit different.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote
#99
Been on a Star Wars-y kick lately, for obvious reasons. Big Grin

Started reading Star Wars: Dark Desciple, a Quinlan Vos/Asajj Ventress story based on some unused scripts from the Clone Wars TV show. It's pretty engaging so far, despite me not being too big a fan of the two protagonists. It does help that it captures the feel of The Clone Wars well, and the characterizations are on point.

I also have Star Wars: Journey to The Force Awakens - Lost Stars, which has gotten a lot of positive reviews, but I'm saving that for later.
Quote
I bought Sons of Dathomir a few months back, likewise based on unused scripts from the Star Wars: The Clone Wars series and wrapping up the Darth Maul storyline. I haven't gotten to it yet, I'm about two months behind on my comics reading right now.
Life is like a roller coaster.  It has its ups and downs, but if you sit back and relax you get one heck of a ride.

NationStates: The Associated Systems of Klonor

Equality is not a loss.
Quote


Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 1 Guest(s)